Although they sound similar, these are actually two different things! Here’s how you can tell which is which.
- A quick “snapshot” that helps you know how much mortgage money you might qualify for.
- May require a credit check, depending on your state.
- Does not require documentation of your financial situation.
- Provided by a lender as a ballpark estimate.
- No cost involved and no commitment on either side.
- A good way to start figuring out how much home you can afford.
- Does not work as a signal that you are ready to purchase a home.
- Always requires a credit check.
- Verified financial history, including documentation.
- Should you choose to, you can get a mortgage for the amount and terms for which you are pre-approved.
- No commitment to receive a mortgage from the pre-approving company.
- A sign that you are very serious and ready to purchase a home.
Article by: Jim Vogel
Image courtesy of Rawpixel
We often talk about the many benefits related to downsizing, like a shrunken utility bill, less trouble staying organized, and cutting down on how much time and money goes into upkeep. However, many seniors face a major hurdle in what to do with the home they are leaving behind. If you’re feeling stuck, read on as we explore a few of the popular choices seniors can make and how they might apply to you.
Your home is a big investment, and before you make up your mind where it will end up and how it gets there, it’s important to know its value in the marketplace. For example, homes in Pittsford sold for an average of $294,000 last month. Do some looking at recent sales, paying particular attention to properties similar to your own. You can even hire an appraiser (for an average of $300-$400) for an accurate figure, which could be needed in the event you decide to keep your home or are contemplating selling your property to pay for your next home.
As we age, sometimes certain activities that used to be easy become more challenging. Many seniors start struggling with activities of daily living, like taking medications and getting dressed, yet still enjoy an independent lifestyle. If that scenario sounds familiar, don’t rule out assisted living communities. They can help with those daily incidentals so you can keep doing the things you enjoy.
Beyond basic support, assisted living communities have a built-in social life, often provide group activities, and even have different living arrangements to pick from, like one-bedroom apartments versus having roommates. As you explore your options, keep in mind it’s best to visit facilities for an in-person assessment.
Selling offers obvious advantages to those in the midst of a downsize. If your current home fetches a high enough price, you might be able to pay for the next place outright. Carefully planned, there could even be funds left to add to your retirement cushion, set aside for an emergency, pay off debts, or even purchase that little getaway spot you’ve dreamed about.
The main disadvantages in selling come in the form of potential taxes, and the loss of being able to do something else with it, like give it away or rent it out.
Turning your home into a rental offers enticing advantages. It means it can be a moneymaker for you, and on top of that, you get to keep the place. It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember that you will still be responsible for taxes, utilities, insurance, and upkeep. What’s more, you have the expenses that go hand-in-hand with managing a rental, like advertising it and screening applicants. If you get bad tenants, you could face legal fees as well.
Note that long-term rentals aren’t your only option these days. If you live in an area that’s desirable for tourism, turning it into a vacation rental might be worthwhile.
In either case, both short- and long-term rentals can be helped along by hiring a property management company. If you don’t live close to the house, aren’t a handyman type, or just don’t want to mess with the work involved, a property manager can take the reins on your behalf and just send you the money each month.
Giving your home to a loved one has obvious sentimental value. However, there are often major complications involving finances and legal standing, and if you end up requiring long-term health care in the near future, Wealth Management points out you should be alert to the Medicaid look back period. Between taxes, legalities, and health care, things get complex quickly, so it’s generally advisable to meet with an attorney if you would like to explore this idea fully.
When it’s time to downsize, there is a lot to think about. Thankfully, seniors have plenty of great options. Know your home’s value, think hard about your needs, and get professional assistance when things are complicated. In the end, you can rest easy knowing you made a great choice.
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Blog by: Colin Kimbrell
At long last, after much thought and careful research, you’ve finally found the home of your dreams… but when you look at the listing on the web, it’s marked as being “contingent,” “pending,” or “under contract.” What does that mean? Can you still make an offer, or do you need to restart your search?
Not to worry! This post explains how to tell the difference between contingent vs. pending vs. under contract and outline your options with regard to making an offer of your own.
When a property is marked as contingent, it means that the buyer has made an offer and the seller has accepted that offer, but the deal is conditional upon one or more things happening, and the closing won’t take place until those things happen. If they don’t happen within a set period of time, the deal is off.
Some of the more common contingencies include:
It is not at all uncommon for contingent deals to fall apart as a result of the contingency in the agreement. Owners whose home is in contingent status can accept a backup offer, and that offer will have precedence if the initial deal does not go through, so if you like a contingent property, it makes sense for you to make an offer on the listing so that you are in position to buy if something goes wrong with that transaction.
As with a contingent property, a home that is active under contract is one where the buyer and the seller have agreed to terms, but the deal is still in its early stages and may not come to fruition. You can still make an offer on a property that is under contract, and if it is accepted and the first deal falls through for some reason, you will be in position to purchase.
For a home that is listed as pending, there is an agreement in place, all contingencies have been addressed, and the deal is on the cusp of being completed. It is still possible for a deal in this situation to fall through, but it is much less common, and some agents may not be willing to accept offers on listings where a sale is pending. Still, there is no harm in asking, as there is no legal barrier to making an offer on a property until the sale is final.
If you would like more information on what different listing statuses mean, take a look at our Real Estate Glossary entry on real estate listing statuses, and if you still have questions or would like to make an offer on a specific listing that is contingent, pending, or under contract, our Howard Hanna agents are here to assist you!
We get it: You have to live somewhere.
If buying a new home before you sell yours just isn’t an option, you’ll likely be staying in your home while it’s on the market. We know you know to deep clean your home and to consider staging your home to sell, but what about the actual day-to-day details of living in a home that’s on the market? How can you keep your sanity and avoid totally disrupting your life?
We’ve got some tips that will help you continue to live in your home – even if you have strangers coming in to fully inspect all the nooks and crannies every few days.
Moving can be a difficult time for everybody, especially children and teenagers. Saying goodbye to their old friends, memories, and familiar neighborhoods can be intimidating, especially if they are starting at a new school. Howard Hanna has some tips to make the transition easier.
Children love the chance to be creative. Giving them the opportunity to get excited about decorating their new rooms will help ease their anxiety about the move. The sooner they unpack their new rooms, the sooner they will adjust to their new home!
Routine and stability are incredibly important to children and teens, allowing them to feel settled and comfortable. A move can hinder your daily routine, but once you unpack, it is important to establish the routine you had before. Maintain mealtimes, bedtimes, playtimes, etc. Continuing their regular routine will make the move easier on your kids, making it easier on you!
Walking around your new neighborhood will not only put you and your children at ease, it may spark some excitement in your kids! Besides, it’s a great way for you to meet neighbors. A child starting school will be a lot less anxious if they see a familiar face – or two!
Take your children to their new school prior to their first day. Giving them a tour, showing them their new classroom, cafeteria, playground, etc. will not only excite them but may help to calm their nerves, as well as yours!
Getting involved in neighborhood activities is a great way to meet your new neighbors. You can join civic leagues, book clubs, or the local swim team. We also recommend volunteering at your child’s new school. This will help both you and your children. Joining the PTA is a great way to accomplish this.
Buying a new home is a very exciting time, but the transition can often be stressful. Let a knowledgeable Howard Hanna agent take the stress off you and your family, while you focus on settling your kids into their new home before school starts. Happy moving!
Yes, it's peak home-buying season. However, it’s no bed of roses. Knowing what to expect is half the battle, and can help you use these highs and lows to your advantage!
Content from Realtor.com
It is a crucial part of the process.
Good credit is essential when buying a home. A poor credit score can lead to a higher interest rate and, by extension, a higher monthly payment. Dings on your credit—e.g., an old debt that's been turned over to a collection agency, or a high credit card balance—can even prevent you from buying a home.
Before setting foot in a home, find a reputable lender and get pre-approved. Let us be clear: This is not a simple pre-qualification; a pre-approval uncovers exactly how much house you can afford and is an essential component of a successful offer letter.
Don't have a lender yet? Don't worry. Your agent can recommend local lenders, or you can seek out recommendations from other homeowners. Once you've settled on a lender you like, have the lender review your finances thoroughly to point out any concerns.
But jumping straight into the deep end could land you in trouble—both financially and emotionally. Think things through and prevent buyer's remorse. And talk with real estate pros to find out the things you should do before you ever set foot in a home.
Add to this the fact that you may need to have a bunch of your belongings in storage during this time and that your house may feel less like a home than you’re used to. It’s natural to find the whole process a bit stressful and exhausting, especially when it goes on for weeks or months.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the home selling experience. The good news is that it won’t go on forever; the bad news is that you won’t know when it’s going to be over until it’s over. Not having a clear timeline in sight isn’t the greatest, especially if you’re someone who likes to know where the light is at the end of the tunnel when embarking on something so majorly life changing. But many people have made it through the home selling process before, and you will too. In the meantime, follow these 7 tips for keeping your head on your shoulders while you wait for that perfect buyer to come along.
Your agent can make the home selling process easier on you, or they can make it harder. Do your due diligence in selecting an agent to take on the job, and make sure that you’re hiring someone who you work well with, who clearly communicates with you, and who has a proven track record of success. The best way to find that ideal agent is to go through referrals, asking people you know and trust who they’ve had a good experience with. If you notice any red flags with an agent you’re considering, such as difficulty getting ahold of them or an off-putting tone when you do talk, go back to the drawing board and find someone else. Fortunately, there are a lot of real estate agents out there, and even if it takes a few meetings to choose the right one, you’ll feel better working with someone who you know you can count on.
You should really only have to do an exhaustive deep clean right before your house goes on the market. After that, it’s just about maintaining things as they are. If you don’t already, make a habit of making all of the beds in your house every morning, cleaning and putting away dishes after you use them, and quickly wiping down surfaces once a day. In addition, keep clutter from building up by putting things away after you’re done with them, or at least clearing up clutter every night before you go to bed. The more small steps you can take throughout the day to keep your home looking clean for any potential showings that might arise, the less time you’ll have to spend doing major cleaning sessions and hurriedly tidying up when buyers want to come through.
Set up a system so that prepping for showings becomes a matter of just following a pre-determined list of steps, and not a chaotic run around. Chances are you’ll figure out a system as you go, but the earlier you can get it into place, the better. Clear spaces in your closets and drawers that you can quickly fill with items that are usually not stored but should be put away for showings, such as pet beds and toys, towels and robes, and mail. If you have items that you intend to take with you when you leave, like laptops and/or other valuables, keep a bag in your front hall closet that you can quickly pull and fill with the things you want to take along. Put the pre-showing prep on auto pilot, and you’ll be less stressed when the time comes to put it all into action.
One of the most overwhelming parts of selling a home is the lack of control you have over the process. You don’t get a say in who decides to come by for a showing or when an offer gets made. But what you do have control over is how much effort you put into optimizing your home for a quick sale. Follow the home selling tips that are specifically designed to move your house off the market as fast as possible, so that even if nobody is biting, you at least know you are doing everything right on your end. The process becomes more mentally difficult the longer it goes on, but if you’re taking the necessary steps to present your home in a way that’s most appealing to buyers, you’ll know that it’s just a matter of the right person coming along, and not any sort of failure on your part.
Before your home gets listed, your real estate agent will likely clear with you how much notice you would like to receive before a showing takes place. While it’s very likely that last minute showing requests will still come in (and you should take those if you can – any showing is a good thing), a request of four hours’ notice gives you enough time to finish up what you’re doing, organize your schedule, and prep the house. Request too much notice and you may be turning off buyers who want to come in sooner rather than later. Request too little notice and you may create extra stress for yourself trying to get everything done. Four hours tends to be a sweet spot, with just enough time to arrange without having to completely throw off your day.
Easier said than done, I know. But if you’ve been a buyer before, you know that comments you make about what you like and don’t like about a house are coming from an outside point of view, and not directly targeted at the current homeowners. “I don’t like those window treatments” or “This kitchen is too cramped” are simply opinions, and while they may mean a particular buyer loses interest in the property, they don’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Negative feedback is important for both you and your agent, because it illuminates general trends of what people are saying, in turn helping dictate changes you should consider to make the home more appealing. If you hear a piece of feedback that hurts a little, try to take it in stride and don’t let it discourage you from the big picture, which is that the right buyer is out there, they just haven’t walked through the door yet.
Stay positive throughout the home selling process by keeping your eye on the prize. You put your home on the market for a reason, and every showing, offer, and back and forth with a buyer’s agent is getting you one step closer to that goal. Do your best to keep your head up – even when things get tough – and remember that while the ordeal may be stressful, it’s just part of getting where you want to go next.
To help you get this essential show-and-tell session rolling, here are a few questions to ask a home inspector that will help you size up a house yourself, and keep it in good condition for as long as you hang your hat there.
During the inspection, your inspector will go slowly through the entire house, checking everything to ensure there are no signs of a problem. He'll point out things to you that aren't as they should be. Don't be afraid to ask any questions about what he's telling you, and make sure you understand the issue and why it matters.
Just keep in mind that your inspector can't tell you whether or not to buy the house, or how much you should ask the seller to fix (though your real estate agent should be able to help with that).
For most people, buying a house is the biggest purchase they'll ever make. It's normal to start feeling panicky when your inspector is telling you the house has a foundation problem, a roof in need of repair, or electrical that isn't up to code. Don't freak out—just ask the inspector whether he thinks the issue is a big deal. You'll be surprised to hear that most houses have similar issues and that they're not deal breakers, even if they sound major.
And if it is major? Well, that's why you're having the inspection done. You can address it with the seller or just walk away.
Don't be shy about pointing out things that look off to you and asking if they're OK. Odds are, if there's something weird, your inspector has noted it and is going to check it out thoroughly. For example, if there's a water spot on the ceiling, maybe he needs to check it from the floor above to know if it's an issue. If something is bothering you about the house, make sure to address it.
Ideally your inspector will ask you if there's anything you're specifically concerned about before he starts. Make sure to tell him if this is your first home, or if you're worried about the house's age, or anything at all that strikes you as a possible negative.
So if you want to get to know your home beyond its pretty facade, you should pepper your inspector with questions—a whole lot of them, in fact!
But when you ask those questions is as important as what you ask. Namely, you should attend your home inspection and ask him right then and there. The reason: Rather than trying to decipher your inspector's (very technical) report, it's much easier for this pro to actually show you what's going on with the house.
In parts of the country with four seasons, we watch leaves explode in vibrant colors as for sale signs pop up in yards. People are happy and relaxed as the temperature begins to drop. It's not just sweater weather that creates static electricity in autumn; it's the scurrying of agents diligently working to pop a few more sales into the hopper before third-quarter sales results are posted. Here are some great tips for attracting the autumn home buyer:
Families have returned from summer vacations. Kids have gone back to school. The holidays aren't yet upon us, at least not yet in an annoying way. We are set to enjoy 75 to 80 days of normalcy, and that's a great time to sell a home.
But if you're able to pull off a successful transformation, you'll reap the benefits. Best-case scenario: You'll end up building your dream home and increasing the value of the property.
But fixing up a ramshackle house can cost a fortune. Unforeseen problems can surface that will make your fixer-upper a real money pit.
When looking at real estate listings, you'll notice that no two fixer-uppers are the same. One may have sat vacant for a while, another may be in desperate need of a new roof, and another may have a mold infestation. Each of these scenarios will cost money to rectify, but some situations are more manageable than others. On your hunt for that hidden gem of a fixer-upper, keep your eye out for the following signs.
All of these problems can be fixed—they'll just add more to your bottom-line costs.
Walking into an open house that looks like a page from your favorite shelter magazine can be comforting, even inspiring. It's easy to see how much potential the home has with decor that's color-coordinated and perfectly styled. You might even start to visualize your own furniture—and family members—in each room!
But while a staged home can accentuate a property's best features, it can also be used to hide some trouble spots.
Whether you're touring new constructions or flipped homes, you can’t afford to be distracted by fake bells and whistles. Here's our list of imperfections that may be hiding in seemingly picture-perfect houses—and how you can identify them during an open house.
Buying a home is a big commitment.
Buying a home is a big commitment. For most of us, it will be the biggest purchase we make in our lifetime. According to the National Association of Realtors, it also usually ties us to one place for about 12 years. Of course, the process is about more than finding a home you like. It’s about finding a home you can afford and enjoy for years to come. And the price tag you see isn’t the full story. It's important to consider all the financial factors of home ownership before you sign any dotted lines. Here are five costs to consider before buying a home this year.
One of the hardest parts of selling your home is all the unknowns: Who will buy your place, and for how much? How long will it take? That uncertainty might make you particularly eager to soak up advice from just about anyone who's willing to share. Problem is, just because your sister or co-worker swear by certain rules that worked for them, it doesn't mean they'll be a magic solution for you, too. Fact is, a lot of the real estate advice circulating out there is outdated, region-specific, or just plain wrong
Every market is different, and what's great advice in one area can be terrible advice in another. Besides, when it comes to deciding when to list a home, there are two sides to the coin. Busier times mean more buyers, but also more sellers and more competition. Listing your home when inventory is low could snag the right buyer quickly. Life is unpredictable, and there will always be buyers looking in the "off season," too.